Hawaiian, hapa or haole, everyone's wild about Harry
FRIDAY night at Kahala Mall, for a moment, everything seemed quite ordinary. The couples strolling were ordinary. My ahi wrap and Diet Pepsi were ordinary.
Then the two mugwumps sat down at the next table.
Mugwumps, muggles, whatever. Don't bother me with details. Perhaps they were wizards, not muggles. (Being a bit of a muggle myself, I can't tell the difference.) But there they were, their wardrobes classic English boarding school with a touch of nerdy Goth chic. There was no question what -- who -- they were there for. They came for Harry. That one girl was Hawaiian, and the other Japanese, mattered not at all. Which is to say, it made all the difference in the world.
They were everywhere. Big and little wizards. Hapa and haole wizards. For a moment, I wondered about Hogwarts' admission policy for Hawaiians -- but I pushed that question aside and headed for the center of the universe, which, on this night, was Barnes & Noble.
I MUST confess: I've never read Harry Potter. Haven't seen the movies, either.
It's nothing personal, J.K. It's not even envy, although yes, I'm envious; what writer isn't? I'll get to them, someday. I've just been so busy. Working for a living. Taking care of my family. Writing my own books at night. And reading, too. Last was Samuel P. King and Randall W. Roth's "Broken Trust." Currently I'm multitasking between Alice Munro's "Runaway," Haunani-Kay Trask's "From a Native Daughter" and Allison Winn Scotch's "The Department of Lost & Found." My to-be-read pile is dangerously high. So many books, so little time. But someday, J.K. I promise.
I reached Barnes & Noble. Outside, staffers were handling the schedule: "Do you want a walk-in? It'll be around 2 a.m." At 9 p.m. the place was packed with ladies and gentlemen, children of all ages. Over the loudspeaker system (and who knew Barnes & Noble had a loudspeaker system?), announcements: Harry Potter treasure hunts. Harry Potter trivia quizzes.
I DODGED black-robed wizards-in-training and made my way to the fiction section's anonymous aisles, where those of us without marquee names or marketing budgets get lost. Finally, I found my latest. I said a silent thanks to whichever employee turned my book face forward, then cursed the alphabetic misfortune that placed me on the bottom shelf. (But surely the system is rigged; regardless of his position in the alphabet, it's hard to imagine that James Patterson winds up on the bottom shelf. Ever.)
I reached down and checked. All five copies of my new book, published two weeks ago, were still there, together with a single copy of my first. Ah, well. Maybe the crowds would help. Maybe someone dizzy from the latest Quiddich bout would stumble into my row, collapse to the floor and spy mine.
BUT ON this night it didn't matter. Because this was the biggest night in the history of publishing since ... well, probably ever. All this was about a book. All these people here, and everywhere, were staying up past their bedtimes, past my bedtime, past Jay Leno's bedtime, because they are reading. They would get their copies at midnight, or 2 a.m. or whenever, then stay up until they finished all 759 pages. Reading.
That makes all of us winners. Not just the writers. Kids. Parents. Schools. Businesses. All of us.
For that, Harry, thank you. And aloha.
Julia Holden is a novelist who, after nearly two decades of traveling to Hawaii, has finally come to her senses and moved here. Her latest book is "One Dance in Paris."